Inside Wall Street’s battle with traders over their use of non-compliant messenger apps like WhatsApp and WeChat

A compliance executive who oversees markets and securities services at a top Wall Street bank said messaging apps have become more of a pressing issue in the past two or three years. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy freely.



Traders have increasingly looked to do business on messenger apps like WeChat and WhatsApp. WhatsApp; Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider


© WhatsApp; Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
Traders have increasingly looked to do business on messenger apps like WeChat and WhatsApp. WhatsApp; Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

And while firms can warn people to stay off certain apps and offer company-approved devices and channels, there’s always the temptation to meet client preferences or use WhatsApp for more informal communications inside the firm. 

If a bank is dealing with a client that uses WeChat or WhatsApp, and that’s the way they want to communicate, “it creates a challenge for us,” this compliance exec told Business Insider. 

Business Insider spoke with more than a dozen traders, compliance experts, tech providers, and other market participants to learn about a surge in WhatsApp use, how Wall Street firms are trying to stop it, and why traders keep getting caught in the fallout.

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